Archive for April, 2008


April 25, 2008

At least one restauranteur has read my previous post and sent a contemptuous retort.

The intention of the post was to illustrate how some of the personal insults I’ve been subjected to could be as much projection as reflection. I really don’t see the point of this contest of who’s smarter or better in business. It would be easy for me to throw stones back, but how would that help?

Why can’t we just focus on the challenges and solutions?

A mistake I keep making as an elected person is assuming that everyone wants to approach dialogue with an open-mind, interested in learning and trying out different perspectives. I also keep forgetting that a lot of people aren’t willing to take responsibility for their own choices.

It seems sad now that my intention with this Spirit Square process was actually to build trust in the community. I had hoped it would become an opportunity to learn together about urban planning and public spaces. I thought that empowering a group citizens to represent their own organizations would get more people engaged in a meaningful and constructive way. Clearly I failed in that regard. I believe the resulting design was a great success, but the process did nothing to build trust in the community beyond those who participated.

In hindsight, I can see that there were things that I could have done. But I still don’t think it is reasonable to say that the outcomes were predictable. To some degree they were, but with very little available staff time and no other resources, there’s not much I could have done different.

Mr. Riome of Frond’s did say that I should have walked Marine Drive to personally talk with each merchant knowing that most would not make contact even though they have questions or concerns. And he’s right. I should have done that.

pot and kettle

April 23, 2008

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that people who own failing businesses are accusing me of having poor business skills? They who say their business is on the brink of failure tell me that the process I have undertaken to design the expansion of a park is poor planning.

The people who now tell me they are rallying to have me unseated in the next election didn’t bother to call or meet with me during the 3 month Spirit Square design process — a series of workshops at which they had a representative who was supposed to share their ideas and concerns.

They claim that the only solution to new competition from the surrounding community is for the City parking program to adapt. They say the only reason people are going to these chic new restaurants is because of an abundance of free parking close to the door.

Enough of the blame game and finger pointing. Let’s get on with creating new reasons for people to come to the beach and making it easier for them to do it.

expectations of disappointment

April 8, 2008

This Council seems to really like being disappointed. Some of them have a habit of asking for things they know they can’t get.

The financial implications of no-net-loss of parking for the Spirit Square is huge. Parkades are incredibly expensive to build. The City would have to incur a huge debt to pay for one and it would take a very long time to pay it off.

Demanding that bus route changes happen now rather than in 5 years, as proposed, is unreasonable. Translink, like the City, has to plan out its goals to be met over time because they don’t have the resources to do everything they wish right now.

I agree that we should be pushing for improvements and reaching for what we truly want rather than being complacent. But at the same time, we should not be making unreasonable demands or creating unrealistic expectations. All we’re doing is setting up ourselves, and our citizens, for disappointment and creating more stress for the people being asked to do the work.

user pay transportation

Last night at the Council meeting, a member implied that the public transportation system should be more “user-pay”.

This is very curious. What exactly does the public transportation system include? Obviously, of course, busses, trains and all the costs of operating and maintaining them. But what about roads, bridges and tunnels? And who are the users anyway?

If White Rock were to advocate for a user pay transportation system, then we should accept road tolling throughout the region for all users, not just those riding Translink busses.

When you think of the transportation system as including roads, sidewalks and bike paths, it becomes obvious that everyone benefits from a comprehensive transportation system. Some people use one mode more than others. Everyone uses the different modes in a different combination. Everyone benefits from having all modes being available, even if it’s just because when other people are on the bus or riding a bicycle, they’re not contributing to more traffic congestion.

So if we all benefit and we’re all users of the transportation system, then we all should pay. If bus riders are expected to pay more of a cost of providing that service, then I’ll suggest that car drivers be expected to pay more of a cost of providing the road network and all its requisite services.